This past week, on the Magic Beans Facebook page, we asked people what funny sayings they’d learned from their fathers. We had lots of great responses, but one stood out to me. An old friend of mine (and Eli’s) from high school responded with “Quid pro quo.”
This struck me because “quid pro quo” is something Eli talks about a lot when it comes to fatherhood and marriage, which are the two themes of this weekend, as we’re celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary and Father’s Day.
But it’s probably not what you think.
Quid pro quo is essentially Latin for “tit for tat”, and serves as a reminder that equal exchange is fair and expected. As a life lesson passed from a father to a child this is important – you get as good as you give.
But for lots of people “quid pro quo” is also a strategy for managing relationships. A long time ago, Eli decided that there’s no reliable calculus for who does what in a family. How many “points” do I get for giving birth three times? For breastfeeding every night while he slept? How many “points” does he get for waking up early to make breakfast and lunch for the kids every single weekday? For walking the dog in the rain? For paying the bills?
Instead of worrying about fairness, we both do the things we’re good at, and when one of us needs a break, the other one tries hard to accommodate. It isn’t flawless, but it’s so much better than trying to be precise.
Truthfully? I’m pretty sure if I did sit down and add it all up, Eli would come out way ahead. He works so hard and does so much for me and the kids. But that all depends on whether “points” earned for a forceps delivery ever expire. I don’t think they do.
Either way, I’m an incredibly lucky woman.
My old friend, whose Facebook comment inspired this post, lost her father this Spring. My thoughts are with her family this weekend, and with everyone for whom celebrating Father’s Day is bittersweet.